SDA Athletics!

In 1997, I was 19 years old and in my 2nd year of college. I also began working at the Mayor’s Office in Jersey City. I remained there until I was 22, first as an intern and then progressing to the administrative assistant to the Director of Communications. It was during my tenure working for the City of Jersey City that I first had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John Nagel.  A busy man, always in a hurry to head into this meeting or to that event, (much like today, 20 years later!) he always had a moment to stop and say hello.  If something great was accomplished by a member of Communications, he was the first to give a quick but thoughtful word of praise or congratulations.  If I needed information for a press release or a seal of approval from his Department on an upcoming promotion for an event, Mr. Nagel, (as I called him back then) was always able to assist me in order to get the job done well and to ensure that the Mayor’s Office looked good!

How nice it has been this year, twenty years later to be able to once again work together with John Nagel, our Director of Athletics.  Time has changed both of us, now I call him John and he jokingly refers to me as “Madame President”, but the same exceptional working relationship has not changed.  The dedication to the job and the effort to ensure that SDA’s athletic program both looks and is exceptional has not changed.  As a member of the SDA family for forty years now, (he began his time at SDA the year I was born!) as well as our Head Track Coach, Mr. Nagel has worked to uphold the mission of Saint Dominic Academy and its commitment to producing well rounded young women.  He reaches out to girls who otherwise may not get involved and encourages them to reach their full athletic potential.

He leads by example as a coach and models how he expects all of our coaches to act.  By emulating how to be a motivational coach,  all of our young athletes, regardless of what sport they play, know that they are supported by a coach who truly cares for them, who wants them to be successful, but  most of all, who wants them to truly enjoy the sport in which they are participating.  What a wonderful gift to be giving our young women; the chance to be leaders on the various athletic fields and to engage in healthy competition, but at the end of the day to know that, win or lose, their coaches are proud of them!  I think every young lady who has played on one of our sports teams can walk away saying “I had fun!” That’s Mr. Nagel’s goal as AD; to make athletics fun. And hey, if we have an impressive collection of trophies here at 2572, then so much the better!

From Dance to Softball, from Track to Tennis, he oversees it all, with a smile, a kind word and a space for every young lady who wants to try a new sport. Tonight, we will gather at our Athletic Dinner to honor our young athletes and celebrate all they achieved this year.  Mr. Nagel and the coaches will coordinate the event and guests will see, they each downplay their role in creating successful student athletes in spite of all of the time they give to our athletic program.  And so, I want to take a moment to thank all of our coaches for all they do each day for our students and for how dedicated they are to the athletic program at Saint Dominic Academy. You make our school well rounded, successful, and a welcoming place for everyone!

And to my friend of 20 years, Mr. John Nagel- your dedication to the mission of Saint Dominic Academy is extraordinary. For 40 years, you have been teaching the women of SDA how to “run like a girl” and I know you will continue to lead our athletic program to great things in years to come! Thank you John, for all you do for SDA!

All That We Have We Owe To Our Mothers…

My 20th blog post focused on my father. In it, I described one of my first memories of he and I as follows….  My earliest memory of my father is from when I was just a little over two years old. He took me out for the day, probably because, as an early talker, I was wearing my mother out.  In July of this year, I will have been wearing my mother out for forty years! I started talking at 10 months old. By 18 months, I was singing full length songs to my mother. (None who know me are surprised by this revelation!) While I am no longer in the habit of belting out a show tune for her questionable enjoyment,  I will admit that I have not stopped talking, and talking and talking.   And yet, she always has time for me and never once, in forty years has she been too worn out to listen.

When I was a little girl, my mother was my playmate. (My two brothers were often not; I mean, how exactly do you play DINOSAUR?) She played Barbie, she played Strawberry Shortcake, and she played Care Bears (once! I did not really understand how to play with bears. I mean, bears can’t talk…but I digress!)  When I was in the hospital at age six, she promised me an almost impossible to find Cabbage Patch Kid and she did indeed find it. (How we could have afforded it, I still wonder.)  She was more wonderful than any fairy godmother because she made my little girl dreams come true; sometimes using nothing more than her imagination and whatever was handy in the craft drawer.  She was a wonderful best friend!

High school arrived, and the road, although still strong and sturdy, had a few bumps every now and then. We did not see eye to eye on a great many things; how long I should talk on the phone each night, how much lipstick I needed to wear to school, whether Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was an appropriate movie to see (She voted no and she won!)  whether or not prom dresses should be peach and fluffy ( I voted no. I .and won!), but we were still close. She was my strongest supporter;  smiling proudly at every production I was in, even if I only had two lines, bringing her friends to see me, putting daily notes of support in my suitcase when I went away to a two week summer program.  She was again, my best friend, my confidant, and she listened tirelessly and ceaselessly to the whirlwind of my high school life.

As I got older, finished college and began my teaching career  and she became principal of a high school in Montclair, we did not, as life got more hectic, grow a little bit apart, but instead became even closer. Her advice was the first I sought, before my friends, even before my father’s.  Hers was the shoulder I went to cry on or the first phone call I made when something wonderful happened.  It is hard, even now as I write this to fully capture in words all that my mother has brought to my life and all she continues to bring to my life every day.  I know for a fact, I would not be sitting in this office at Saint Dominic Academy if it were not for her constant guidance, influence and support.  I consider myself a strong, empowered and independent woman and I think most who know me would agree.  However, I also know that I would be lost without the daily grace and love that my mother brings to my life.

Mothers who are reading this, I would imagine that many of you feel the same way about your own mothers. Daughters of SDA, young ladies in grades 7-12 who argue daily with your moms about some of the same petty topics I argued with my mother about, trust me when I say, your mother is your first line of defense, your biggest cheerleader, and the woman who will shape the way you mother your own child one day in the future.  Even when you fight with your mothers, (and, of course you will) and even when they fight back (and of course…they will!), there are no words strong enough to capture the love your mother carries within her heart for you.  It is all encompassing, it is infinite and it is yours whenever you need it most.  I know that, as a mother, because I learned it from my mother.

Motherhood is a thankless job at times, but it is also the best job in the world. I know my mother will read this blog and before she tells me whether she likes it, she will fuss at the fact that I used her picture or that I went overboard with sentiment. She is a private person, one who gives of her heart daily without expecting to be thanked.  All mothers do this and on this Monday  leading into Mother’s Day on May 14th, it is time all daughters took the time, not just to send a card or wrap a gift, but to look our mothers in the eye and say thank you for all they do for us and for how much they love us.

Even then, it is not enough, but daughters, it is the best we can do.  And so, to my own mother, a very public thank you:  Mom, if I can be half as good a mother to Abigail as you are to me, then I will be a great mother. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my first and best friend. I love you!

And to all of our SDA mothers, who wipe away tears after a heartbreak and who listen to the stories of teenage drama, and who find that extra fund to make her little girl’s dress or shoe or whatever dreams come true, I thank you.  Thank you for raising such beautiful young women, each day they walk the halls of SDA they are a testament to how wonderful each of you are.  And I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days because now, as a mother myself, I truly understand how much you deserve it!

SDA: A School That Rocks!

Over the Easter break, I had the opportunity to take my daughter to see School of Rock on Broadway.  For those of you not familiar with the Jack Black movie or the musical inspired by that film, here is a very brief plot summary from the Internet Movie Database.

After being fired from his own band, the guitar player Dewey Finn needs to raise some money to pay for his rent and his bills. When his friend and school teacher Ned Schneebly is called to a temporary work in an expensive private school, Dewey pretends to be Ned and accepts the job. He finds talented young musicians in his class, and he decides to form a rock-and-roll band with the students and win a competition called “Battle of The Bands” to win the prize and be recognized in the show business.

The show, whose music was written by that icon of the Great White Way, Andrew Lloyd Webber, was a wonderful experience for the both of us.  While she enjoyed seeing the pint size actors and actress rock out to songs like Stick It To The Man and You’re In the Band, I was inspired by the subliminal message contained within the musical, a message I thought was lacking in the original film.  What struck me were several of the musical numbers, performed at different times by the faculty at the fictional Horace Greene School, and the students in the class, who are benefitting from the day to day rigor of their education, but not fully awakening their minds to the idea that learning can indeed be fun.  While the faculty shares with the audience how tight a ship the school is (Here at Horace Greene), the students, wise beyond their years at age 10, lament that nobody asks them for their thoughts, ideas or insights- not their teachers nor their parents (If Only You Would Listen).

I have to say, I had tears on my cheeks at that moving number and I thought to myself, I am glad to be in a place where I know the entire community, teachers and parents, make an effort daily to listen to the children of SDA.  Now, while I don’t think that teaching rock music alone is the way to reach every student- (Mr. Finn’s schedule was Rock History, Rock Appreciation and Theory, and Band Practice), I am in agreement that sometimes unconventional teaching reaches students in ways that rote memorization and by the book tests do not.  

The overall messages that School of Rock sent, to me and to Abigail, as well I hope to the other parents and children in the sold out theater was that learning can be fun when a teacher is truly inspiring,  that when he or she brings a passion for the subject matter that can be shared with the students in the room magic happens, ( or as Mr. Finn called it musical fusion) , and that when together, the students in the class and the teacher who leads them, share a bond of respect, understanding and compassion, then the best type of learning takes place!   And I think, in classrooms at 2572 Kennedy Boulevard, this type of inspired learning is happening on a daily basis, and it has been happening since 1878.  While I do not hear any drum solos or electric guitar chords blasting through the hallways (thank goodness!), I do see and hear innovative, intriguing and extraordinary lessons occurring in the classrooms at Saint Dominic Academy.  

This week, on May 3rd, Saint Dominic Academy will be having an Open House for prospective students and their families!  You, our current parents, our alumnae, and those who are connected to SDA in one way or another, can lift your voices this week and invite a family you know to come see all the reasons that Saint Dominic Academy is truly a school that rocks!  Open House will begin at 6:00pm and it will be a showcase of all we have to offer students in grades 7-12!  I hope that you will help us spread the word and make the event a stellar and successful one for the SDA community!

Oh, and if you are looking for a way to, as the musical said live hardcore, for a few hours on a spring afternoon or evening, then I recommend taking your daughter to see School of Rock!  It was an amazing show, one of the best I’ve seen, and I do plan to see it again, and rock out with Mr. Finn and his pint sized band!

The Empowered Lady of the Harbor

As I sat, reflecting on the generations of empowered Saint Dominic Academy alumnae who will come together at the end of this week, either at the Biergarten in Jersey City or at The Breakers in Spring Lake to celebrate our Alumnae Reunion weekend, it occurred to me that both of these events will be celebrated in view of the water. And what better backdrop then than sparkling blue water, catching the light of the sun and the reflection of the sky (or the skyscrapers) to showcase the beauty and devotion our alumnae have shared with Saint Dominic Academy throughout the years. That thought, as thoughts often do, led me to reflect on images of women that come to mind when we think of the word empowered. And I realized, that in writing this blog weekly since September, I have neglected to give focus to one of the most welcoming, strong and empowering women ever to venture to Jersey City; and we at SDA were here to welcome her when she arrived. shares the following: The Statue of Liberty was a joint effort between France and the United States, intended to commemorate the lasting friendship between the peoples of the two nations. The French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi created the statue itself out of sheets of hammered copper, while Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the famed Eiffel Tower, designed the statue’s steel framework. The Statue of Liberty was then given to the United States and erected atop an American-designed pedestal on a small island in Upper New York Bay, now known as Liberty Island, and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. Over the years, the statue stood tall as millions of immigrants arrived in America via nearby Ellis Island; in 1986, it underwent an extensive renovation in honor of the centennial of its dedication. Today, the Statue of Liberty remains an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy, as well as one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.

Look carefully at the years in the description; she was dedicated in 1886…and our women were here in Jersey City!  We had a presence in Jersey City before Lady Liberty herself!  Eight years prior to her arrival in the harbor, Saint Dominic Academy was established in Jersey City and had, for eight years, served the young women of Jersey City well.  Imagine the excitement in the school building when she arrived. The community of women at Saint Dominic Academy were here to welcome her and it must have been quite a welcome!  What a breathtaking sight she must have been to behold.

And again in 1986 (and this I remember from my childhood), when the centennial celebration was held, Saint Dominic Academy was present, vibrant and alive and joining in the celebration of Lady Liberty; she who welcomes “your tired, your hungry,  your poor…”, she who “lift(s) my lamps beside the golden door.”  One has to wonder in awe, how many young women, following the arc of light from her torch, followed a path from the Jersey City waterfront to Saint Dominic Academy?  How many lives did we shape, how many hearts did we touch, as the children of immigrants passed through Ellis Island and settled in this area?

Today, still within the daily presence of this monumental woman (literally), we at Saint Dominic Academy celebrate the generations that have gone before us and spread wide our doors to welcome those who are seeking an enlightened, enriching and empowered education for young women. Our tradition is a strong as her pedestal, our devotion to educating women as welcoming as her gilded torch and as our alumnae gather to celebrate this weekend, let us all, wherever we are join them in a toast to all who enrich the lives of Saint Dominic Academy each and every day!

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to the entire Saint Dominic Academy community! Yesterday we celebrated the miracle of Christ’s resurrection! As we reflected on the sacrifices that Christ made for each of us, let us also call to mind the daily sacrifices we make for each other, as parents to our children, as educators for the students who sit before us, as alumnae who work to support their alma mater. Each of us is blessed daily by all the gifts we are given from God and each of us is a daily representation of God in the lives of others. As members of The Saint Dominic Academy community, let us rejoice in this season of Easter and continue to celebrate the joys that God’s love brings to each of our lives.

Each member of the SDA community is a gift from God to us and each of you will be kept in our daily prayers all throughout the Easter season and the spring.  We celebrate our new life in Christ, the joys of spring, and the many blessings each member of our family brings to SDA this year.

I wish you and your family a Happy Easter, a warm and rejuvenating spring, and all the warmth and love that blossoms during this time of year.


Sarah Degnan

Head of School

The Road to Easter Sunday

This week, the Catholic church enters into the most Holy Week of the year; a final meal among friends, a reflection and betrayal in the Garden, a trial, a death sentence, and the long, painful walk to death on the Cross. These days commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ and ask each of us to pause and reflect on His sacrifice for all mankind. It is important for us all to reflect and repent during this darkened time so that we can truly embrace the Light and Life that comes forth in Joy on Easter Sunday.

Jesus knew, when He traveled to Jerusalem for the final time, that the end of his life was drawing close. We know, from Church readings that while Jesus was committed to His Father’s plan for the salvation of humankind, he still carried within His own heart great fear. We would expect nothing else; the fear of dying in such a painful manner, the fear of betrayal by a close friend, the fear of being mocked, ridiculed and beaten for His words of love would cause even the bravest of us to perhaps turn and flee the fate that awaited in Jerusalem. However, we also know from the Gospel that Jesus did not turn and flee; His presence at the Last Supper, where He washed the disciples’ feet, where He shared with close companions His Body and Blood were actions that signified His acceptance of the plan His Father had in store for Him. And although He asked in prayer to have the cup “pass from my lips”, Jesus turned His cheek to accept Judas’ kiss of betrayal and walked willingly toward His fate at Golgotha.

This week, each of us should take comfort in the suffering of our Lord, for it is that very suffering that should give us hope in difficult times. Whether we are mourning the end of a relationship, the loss of a friendship, a physical illness, the death of a loved one, or even a small sadness that touches our heart only and leaves other hearts unmoved, our sadness is not unnoticed by God. We must remember, this week and always, that the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus and His agony on the cross give all of us hope for a better tomorrow. When we offer our individual sadness, our silent pain, our tearful mourning to God, we are reminded that if we trust in our Father, His love will sustain us, not just during the trials of Holy Week leading to the Easter celebration, but always, for His sacrifice for us is continual.

As we wait this week for the stone to be removed from the tomb early on Sunday morning, let us be thankful for the sacrifice God has made for each of us and keep each other in prayer daily. We may not know the sufferings of others, but together, we can offer our sadness to God and receive the gift of joy on Easter Sunday.

In prayerful anticipation for Easter…

What Are YOU Reading?

The month of March was full of opportunities to encourage young children to read. Read Across America, the program that celebrates Dr. Seuss’ birthday allowed the young women of SDA to visit both All Saints Catholic Academy and P.S. # 23 to read to students in grades ranging from Pre K 3 to 3rd.  I myself had the chance to do some reading to the kindergarten at All Saints, both as a chaperone for the NHS trip there and as the class parent for my daughter’s class.  It was wonderful for our young ladies and the chaperones who attended to be able to experience the excitement that comes with reading a story out loud to interested, inquisitive, and yes, at times chatty, youngsters.

I am sure many of my fellow parents who read this can fondly recall nights curled up in bed or on the couch under a blanket, reading to your daughter as she first discovered board books.  Was Good Night Moon a favorite bedtime story for your daughter?  Or was she more of a Where The Wild Things Are fan?  And as they got a little bit older and chapter books came into play, did you read aloud nightly from classics such as Little House on the Prairie or James and the Giant Peach?  I see our young ladies in the halls today, carrying novels with them, novels that we are not currently teaching in any of our English classes and that fills me with joy.  I am still lucky enough to have that little one to read to each night and although I dread the book choices some evening (I am NOT a Peppa Pig fan…book or TV show), other nights I dedicate to chapter books (currently on the bedside table is Beezus and Ramona) and it is my hope that this habit of reading together daily will inspire a love of reading that will carry far into the future. (So far, I have observed that math comes easier for my daughter; a source of sadness for this English major mommy!)

And I put this question to the moms and dads of the girls of SDA; now that they have been given the gift of reading, the ability for years now to read on their own, do you miss those “read aloud” days where you watched their smiling faces as you recounted the tales between the covers of a beloved childhood book?  I do get to see some of those smiling faces still, when it comes to reading for pleasure; we have implemented a Book Club here at SDA this year and I am the moderator.  We meet every 6-8 weeks and I am always pleased, both with the turnout and with the level of discussion I observe amongst the young ladies who attend.  It’s very informal, some snacks, some talking, and some laughs (or tears) about the book.  Different students choose to attend at different times, depending on what is being read and the books selected vary greatly in plot and theme.  I am so glad this club has come into existence this year! (Thanks Francesca and Margaret!)

As I think about what books I would love for SDA Book Club to read, it occurs to me over and over again that there is just not enough time in the year or hours in the day or days in the week for students to read every book that some of us adults consider wonderful, inspiring, or even difficult but necessary reads.  And I think to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if as parents, you with your daughters and me with mine, could continue that tradition of “story time” together.

So, regardless of whether your daughter is an avid reader or you fear that text messages are all she reads these days, I have three suggestions for some books that parents and daughters may truly enjoy reading together this spring! The few I suggest will all leave a lasting impression and will teach an important lesson as well.

  1. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy.  Lucy Grealy was nine years old when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an almost always terminal cancer that she managed to beat and survive. However, her survival came with quite a price, the removal of a third of her jaw, which left her disfigured for most of her school years.  Here, Grealy tells openly and honestly of her experiences, not only with cancer, but with the never ending teasing she faced at the hands of her classmates for most of her life. This book will wipe out any thoughts of bullying your teen may have entertained and is all the more sad for the fact that Grealy killed herself as a young adult.
  2. At Risk by Alice Hoffman.  The story of the Farrell family, mother, father, 8 year old Charlie and 11 year old Amanda, who is on her way to being a world class gymnast. Set in the mid 1980’s, before donated blood was tested, the family faces a harsh tragedy when Amanda is diagnosed with AIDS; a result of a blood transfusion during an appendix operation.  This novel, not a story of death, but a story of how a family learns to live, cope, learn and love each other in the face of discrimination is just as timely now as when it was first published.
  3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  Set in Berlin in 1942, this book tells the story of Bruno, a young German boy whose father has just been placed in charge of Auchwitz. Bruno is too young to understand what is happening in Germany and across the world; all he knows is that he has been moved to a new home with nobody to play with and nothing to occupy his time.  Fascinated by a fence that runs the length of his property, he begins to wonder about the people on the other side and why they are always dressed in striped pajamas.  Exploring the fence, Bruno makes a new friend on the other side, a friendship that will end badly and break readers hearts.

In Support of Catholic Schools

The mission and vision of Catholic schools in Hudson County has never changed, never wavered, and never varied in its goal.  The goal of all Catholic schools, elementary or high, co-ed or single sex is to provide a faith filled educational foundation for students whose parents wish to see their children achieve. One needs only to look at the mission statements of schools in Hudson County, and regardless of whether they were founded by the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the Marist Brothers, the De La Salle Brothers or another religious community, the purpose is shared.  Catholic education is different from public education, in ways more myriad than the placement of crosses in a classroom or prayers before the end of the day.  Catholic school is a tradition, a way of life, a path that many of us were raised on and that we continue to have our children follow to this very day.  Catholic school alumni, educators, and parents are a community of our own- one that believes in the value and need for quality Catholic education within our communities, in order to best prepare our next generation of children for the future.

It should then come as no surprise how shocked and saddened I was this past Monday when I learned that Marist High School has been given just one month to raise 1.5 million or its doors will close in June.  This is a pattern I have seen far too often during my years in education.  I have been blessed to have been educated by Catholic institutions in Jersey City from kindergarten through 12th grade, and it is with sadness that I look back on those years, for both of those fine schools, Our Lady of Mercy and The Academy of Saint Aloysius are no longer here to serve the Hudson County community.  Over the past few years, many of us have seen other schools consolidate, combine, restructure or even close and a loss of one of those institutions is a significant loss for Catholic education overall.  

This county was once filled with thriving, academically challenging Catholic elementary schools and high schools and now, their reflections are seen only in the pages of yearbooks from days gone by and in the actions of those who once passed through their doors and now are leading by example in their individual lines of work; retaining the essence of faith, service, charity and compassion that was taught in their Catholic educational setting.

Where once Jersey City and, indeed, all of Hudson County was primarily a homogeneous geography of Catholic immigrants, it is today a market of enormous diversity. While our product, a faith-based education that empowers women of all backgrounds for leadership, is appropriate for many beyond the graduates of Catholic elementary schools, the fact is that there are, indeed, fewer families seeking these educations for their children. Although that is the case, there is room for diversity in those offerings – both single gender and co-ed – because it is from diversity that we all thrive.

For all of us, myself included, a thriving Catholic school community is one where all schools are successful, all schools serve the student population, and the choice, for co-ed or single sex is offered- to meet the individual student’s best interest.  If we are to be successful, we must be supportive of all Catholic educational endeavors and we must reach out and be there for each other in times of trouble and despair. For, isn’t that what being a Catholic community is all about?

We do not want to sit back and watch as doors close around us; we want those doors to be open, to continue to promote their educational programs and their outstanding achievements.  For we are a community, one that believes in Catholic education and one that wants to see it thrive for time in memoriam.  

In that vein, Saint Dominic Academy will do more this spring than just promote Catholic education within our own walls.  We will be making a donation to the #savemaristnj campaign and will hope that our donation, partnered with so many others, will ensure that the doors of another Catholic school do not close forever, but rather, remain a vibrant part of Hudson County for years to come.  Saint Dominic Academy supports Catholic education and we want to see it thrive…always!

This Is Us…at SDA!

Are many of you on the This Is Us bandwagon? I was not at first, but more and more people kept telling me I was missing “the best show on television.”  So one night I gave it a chance and after two episodes, I was hooked. Now, tissues are on my weekend grocery list because I have not made it through many episodes without either filling up or freely crying. ( Although, no spoilers, I found the season finale very anti climatic. No tears shed there folks!)  I am sure those of you who watch have your favorite characters, ( Team Randall here!)  plot lines to follow, and overall weekly reactions. (Here is a question: is the Mom too demanding or is the Father just a bit too perfect? Thoughts? Anyone?)  

The writers, director and actors have created a television show that, for one reason or another, has struck a chord with our culture today.  It has drawn us in, held our interest, made us talk, made us think, and made us ( at least me) weep. That is quite a big impact for a television show to have, especially in the day and age of reality television, an over-choice of what to watch using whatever device one is plugged into each day, and in a world where many of us are too busy to just take a moment and enjoy on a regular basis.  And that made me wonder; what is it about this show, with no violence,  no gratuitous sex (at least not in this season), no focus on anything other than family and what it means to be a family today, that has captured the hearts of many of us?

And I went from that wondering to this pondering; Saint Dominic Academy could be viewed in the same type of weekly “snapshot”, a picture of what makes us so engaging, so captivating, so beloved week after week, year after year, from 1878 to now.   For at heart, the SDA community is a family and at different times throughout the years, different aspects have been given the limelight, the focus, the love of the students, parents and alumnae. Each of us have grown to care for SDA for different reasons and have different motivations for attending, for serving, or for supporting, but we all do it. There is something almost magic about Saint Dominic Academy; it draws people in as students, it calls people back, as alumnae. It motivates, it challenges, and it supports- the school has an engaged following that cannot be denied.

One need only to look to our social media; our Twitter followers, our Facebook page, as well as the alumnae and parent SDA Facebook pages to see how much support we have; a following that far surpasses any TV show following. Memories, accolades, inspirations, they are posted and shared daily for all to see. And so, this week I am very happy to announce via this blog a new undertaking at SDA this spring.  As you know, the weekend of April 28th is our Alumnae Reunion weekend. In honor of that, we at Saint Dominic Academy will be naming April  “Alumnae Celebration Month.”

So, Saint Dominic Academy…This Is Us!  From April 1 to April 30th, we will be reaching out daily, via email and social media to share memories of the SDA of years past and achievements of the current SDA students. It is my hope that you continue to remain our “loyal viewers” during this venture and I look forward to sharing these daily highlights with you.

Stay tuned…

Why Attend SDA? The Answer Is Simple!

When it comes to high schools there is no doubt in my mind that Saint Dominic Academy offers the best possible education for young women in grades 7-12.  Our classes are academically challenging, our athletic program is competitive yet welcoming, and our learning experiences exceed the perimeters of the classroom setting more than a few times throughout the year.   We create a warm and nurturing environment for our students and truly work to inspire them to become empowered leaders of the future.

 However, I know that oftentimes, parents and other potential stakeholders do ask the question: Why is Catholic secondary education for women so important?  In a day and age where many public and charter schools are offering specialized academic programs and where co-ed Catholic schools offer the allure (and drama and tears) of taking classes with young men,  what makes so many parents and their daughters choose Saint Dominic Academy?  It is because, day in and day out since 1878, we have offered a foundation supported by the Dominicans that truly shapes young women for the future.

As a graduate of the Academy of Saint Aloysius, I can attest first hand to the importance of Catholic secondary education for women. I would not be where I am today without the backing and support of the Sisters of Charity and without the strong foundations I received at their institution. Catholic education provides young women with the opportunity to become, as we at Saint Dominic Academy so frequently phrase it, “empowered”.  

During the formative years of 12- 18, attending an all girls school allows our young women, your daughters, to learn that they can indeed do it all. Our girls are the star athletes, the student council presidents, the leads in the musicals, the top students in the class. As parent Eileen Gill recently stated via Facebook: The dedication, discipline and teamwork that these girls put into this team week after week are a tribute to their hard-working coaches, and the culture of Saint Dominic Academy. While your daughters attend Saint Dominic Academy, they are the innovators and achievers, with nobody to stand in their spotlight or to make them feel that what they are doing is not something “women do.”  It is at all girls Catholic schools where girls truly learn that all people are created equal and that intelligent, faith-filled women can change the world, make it better, and reach any goal they set for themselves.

I learned all of those lessons during my time in Catholic school and it is those lessons that set me on my path to the future. If I had not had the opportunity to attend The Academy of Saint Aloysius, I may not ever have truly realized how important it is for our Catholic girls’ schools to stay strong, stay vital and to maintain a true presence in the lives of all girls.  Those sentiments were recently expressed to me via email from parent Joyce Debronsky, who shared her feeling that SDA’s future is bright…I am glad our family is a part of it!  

Today, I thank each of our parents in grades 7-12 for choosing Saint Dominic Academy, for putting the future of your daughters into the hands of all who work so hard daily, and for entrusting us to set them on the right path to the future.  You chose wisely, you chose well, and we are honored to have your daughters here with us each day.

From 1878 to today, and far into the future, Saint Dominic Academy will offer young ladies a chance to be everything they ever dreamed of being: STEM scholars, Presidents, Soloists, Athletes, and there is never someone saying “girls cannot…” At Saint Dominic Academy, we work every day to send the message that “Girls Can” and “Girls Should” and that message, more than any other, helps to create a world of women who work for the betterment of society as a whole.